Home / Gun Ownership / A Computerized, Desktop Metal Fabricator for $1,400. DIY Guns? Yes, Sir.
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A Computerized, Desktop Metal Fabricator for $1,400. DIY Guns? Yes, Sir.

Written by Gary North on June 13, 2013

So, you don’t want plastic guns made on a 3-D printer? You want a metal gun. You don’t care about metal detectors at an airport. You are concerned about gun registration.

It looks as though your answer is almost here. Possibly by the end of summer, you will be able to buy a computer-driven desktop metal fabricator. So will a lot of people.

Within five years, this technology will be everywhere. It will let people build all sorts of metal equipment. Maybe this product will not pan out, but something comparable will.

This is the wave of the future. We are going back to what we had in 1790: cottage industries. Only the cottages will be factories.

This is decentralization on a scale we can barely imagine.

Sales taxes? Gone. Tariffs? Gone. Registration? Gone. Buy a blueprint, download it, and DIY.

Next stage: encryption. Let the NSA follow the digits. So what?

The more fabrication machines there are out there, the greater the noise — data overload. Noise is our friend.

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32 thoughts on “A Computerized, Desktop Metal Fabricator for $1,400. DIY Guns? Yes, Sir.

  1. I have a friend with a 3-D printer (not metal, of course). The manufacturer gave it to his company because they make their money on the cost of printing materials. I suspect the same it true here.

  2. hanginjudge says:

    As a mechanical engineer, long time machine shop owner and life time NRA member I have long been aware of these machines and their capabilities. As far as having the ability to use them to create gun components this is a really bad idea on so many fronts I can't begin to list them.

    Unless of course the criminals that will be producing these things are going to register them! Yeah right!
    Just because we "can" do something doesn't mean we should.

  3. CrustyOldGeezer says:

    FIREARMS SAFETY K-12 with live fire beginning in the 2nd grade on a regular basis.

    Increasing calibers and shooting distances as they increase in age.

    That way, when every child graduates from high school, they are knowledgeable, well-trained Citizens with the ability to protect and defend their families, neighborhoods, ccommunities, the nation AND the Constitution.

    Police will once again be a small percentage due to a severe lack of criminals willing to risk the odds of finding an unarmed victim in a sea of armed first-responders..

  4. You mention encryption, and it may be of interest to others that the Thunderbird mailer has long had the Enigma plugin available to perform GPG (open source PGP) encryption with full key management capability. Free.

    Re: @hanginjudge "a really bad idea" The problem, of course, is that cheap guns are already available to any criminal who wants to buy one, even in the most rigidly "gun free zones" in America. Since gun registration isn't a constitutional requirement, any regulation attempting to impose it has no other legal basis than mindless fear.

    The problem, of course, is that governments are using guns to kill a lot of people on a daily basis, world wide. The idea that government regulation of arms flies in the face of flatly irresponsible use of guns by governments to inflict wanton violence on a scale and with a sociopathic fury far more flagrant than by private citizens.

    Making governments sole determiners of who shall have guns and who shall not leaves us with a problem that government agencies tend to favor interests of the government and persons aligned with its never ending expansion (e.g. the IRS, DOJ, NAS, etc., etc.) Why should the last line of defense of the citizenry against predation be handed to meatball bureaucrats for greater "security" when all experience to date is that any power it wields is eventually and outrageously abused?

    The present government was not founded on the notion that government is trustworthy. it was founded on the certainty it is not.

  5. Bryant Hopkins says:

    This computer/machining system has been under development for some time. The plastic-forming machine is working now. The Government has tried to stop it from making plastic guns. By demanding removal of the "blueprints" from the internet, they have slowed things down—for a while! But the metal-cutting machine will have real consumer appeal! All the information to make guns with steel components have long been available. Think the 18th amendment: prohibition. Following that example, simple "street guns," handguns will be available from so many sources that the prohibitionists' demand of "ban them: ban them ALL" will seem quaint. So: Who's your handgun bootlegger to be?

  6. I'm also a long time (50 years +) machinist and engineer and have also done some gunsmith and extremely high pressure hydraulic design work – Promoting this technology either intentionally or not as a way to make metal guns is completely irresponsible – I've used this technology myself and the idea of making components that could withstand the pressures of a firearm is ridiculous – I see two things happening – The clueless folks who try to make a gun this way will kill themselves and their survivors will get a junkyard dog lawyer to sue to company that manufactures the equipment when in reality they should sue the equally clueless people who promote this as a way to make metal guns –

  7. With the feds buying up all the ammo, being able to make metal guns on computer will not help very much.

  8. Being a lifetime NRA member hasn't impressed me since I learned how incredibly complicit the NRA has been in gun-control creep. If you want to impress me, say you're a GOA or JPFO member.

    The fact that you're concerned about registration says it all.

  9. I'm certainly not going to be one of the first people making a gun this way. But the fact that it can be done is far more important than whether it is safe or a good idea. It will get better and better and in time it will be safe and ubiquitous.

  10. Yo! A fact that you may or may not be aware of is that for guns of the m-16, AR-15 class, the thing with the serial number, which is the regulated part, has no high stress exposure. The really nice thing is that you can buy an 'upper' for that 'lower' in many different calibers. The easiest thing is for .223 rounds, but an even better choice is to use the AK-47 round with an off the shelf upper for the 7.62 x 39 ammunition which is superior to the .223 round. You can, I as I understand, also use standard AR-15 magazines for those rounds.

    And, please, please, you other people out there, …the thing that holds the ammunition is a 'magazine', not a 'clip'. A clip is something that holds a bunch of cartridges together to aid in sliding them into a 'magazine'. Stop making yourselves look ignorant.

  11. Love it! Love it! Love it! Love it! Love it! Love it! Love it!

  12. Rattlerjake says:

    99% of criminals won't waste their time making their guns. Most criminals are barely smart enough to shoot a gun. This explains why they are criminals, if they were smart they would work for a living, or create a business. Besides, these machines will only make certain parts, the rest they will have to obtain elsewhere. The only likely use would be to make a non serial numbered receiver and transfer the parts from a serialed receiver to it.

  13. Hmm, maybe this is the opportunity to invent caseless ammo that you can make at home.

  14. Rattlerjake says:

    Many of the modern firearms today are being made with machines, CNC and manual milling machines from a block of metal. I've made a few AR receivers myself from blocks of aluminum. They are just as detailed, accurate, and stable as those you purchase. Again I will reiterate what I said before, 99% of criminals won't waste their time making their guns. Most criminals are barely smart enough to shoot a gun. This explains why they are criminals, if they were smart they would work for a living, or create a business. Besides, these machines will only make certain parts, the rest they will have to obtain elsewhere. The only likely use would be to make a non serial numbered receiver and transfer the parts from a serialed receiver to it.

  15. ralph_swan says:

    This is a MILL. It's the exact opposite of a PRINTER. It REMOVES material from a block. A printer ADDS material. (Caps just to emphasize the important words that most people who aren't machinists don't grasp). You can buy a decent used Bridgeport Mill for a bit more with the CNC stuff. But the quality is vastly improved over this plastic gizmo. Of course, it won't fit on your desk because it's a very bulky machine tool.

    There will surely be a Metal Printer in the future, tho. All one needs is a CNC Mig welder that simply lays up layer upon layer of steel weld material. It's identical to the plastic 3D printer but it has $700 worth of a welding machine in place of the plastic melt and spray unit on the current plastic 3D printers.

    I'd build one to sell, but it's so simple that there's nothing to patent. I figure China will be building them in just a couple years.

  16. Teddy Roosevelt suggested this in 1908, having a firing range and mandatory class in the high schools.

  17. You can't begin to list the reasons, because the attempt would INSTANTLY prove your claimed qualifications are BS. The machines in question are simply smaller scale versions of have COMMERCIALLY manufactured guns have been made for years.

  18. People are already making receiver parts out of plastic using 3D printers. Making firearms out of 3D metal parts is not going to be any more demanding than using plastic parts.

    Hangingjudge I do not understand your objections but think that you are being less than candid about them. Citing your background implies that there are physical hazards to using 3D printers to build firearms…. but you do not say so explicitly.

    I must infer that you have some concerns about the physical limitations of 3D printers for at least some firearms parts but I think much more so, you want to register and regulate firearms ownership.

    Eventually 3D printed parts will be robust enough to function as barrels, bolts and receivers…. if not already some time in the near future.

  19. True that… O-Bot can go bite the Big-1…

  20. Ah,yo… you just made yourself sound like an igonerent boob… clips are used in M1's… can't believe you called someone "YO" & than chastized them… now don't get mad we're on the same side….just saying… lol 😛

  21. agree w/RFW. Having seen many gun manufacturers production cells and operations and worked on the equipment, The process should best be left to the precision equipment capable of handling the metals and alloys required to withstand the energies produced. The article guesses $1400. I see most "real" machines starting prices with a couple more zeros. Best left to the qualified and promoting this technology for this application is just irresponsible.

  22. Daniel B. says:

    AK-47 Rounds are tapered so they need a curved magazine. I will let you sit on that and see if you can figure out the problem with the AR lowers.

  23. the B meister says:

    That would be fantastic but I am affraid that it will never happen, as much as I would like to see it come true!

  24. hanginjudge says:

    First off Joel I have no need to try and impress you, but it seems that my message might have been unclear since i have received so many negative comments.

    I was simply pointing out that this administration is hell bent on restricting gun ownership through various meNnot that I was in favor of it. Sorry you misunderstood my message.

  25. hanginjudge says:

    I couldn't agree with you more

  26. hanginjudge says:

    Really Steven so now your a psychic? I could list my qualifications for you if i thought it would make any difference but it wouldn't including the fact that I was a formally trained competitive shooter in high school which is so far back that I don't care to remember it but suffice it to say that we were allowed to bring our guns to school with us in those days. I have been a machinist for more than 50 years, have run my own CNC machine shop for over 30 years and have been a Mechanical Engineer since 1972.

    You only telegraph your ignorance by making statements that you are unqualified to make regarding my or anyone else's qualifications.

    And your last statement proves without any doubt that you have no clue regarding how guns are manufactured. Sounds as though you are confusing stereo-lithography with CNC (computer numerical controlled) machining which has been around for years.

  27. You can use a straight magazine for M43 ammunition, you just fashion the magazine follower to compensate for the taper of the round. The rub is that stuffing enough of them into a magazine for a reasonable period of burst fire makes the magazine "long".

    The M43 round is not "superior" to either the M193 or M885 rounds. It has pitiful terminal ballistic qualities, similar to a 38 Special FBI load. The newer 7.62x39mm rounds, especially hollow points, closely duplicate a 30-30 round, which puts it in the lower end of deer rifles.

    Where the M43 round excels is that its taper reduces the primary extraction forces, raising reliability when the rifle chamber gets very warm.

  28. There is indeed a Metal 3D Printer. The device uses powdered metal and a binder. The structure can then be brazed or sintered into a single piece.

    China is already building these devices….

  29. Here's an example of 3D Metal Printer

    The "Rub" is the sintering or brazing process. This could be done at home but probably NOT on a desktop.

  30. What is the maximum size of your "average firearm component"? Add some space on the sides and there you go.

    The toughest part of the process for firearms is the Engineering. That can be done once. The rest of the process can be done where ever.

    While firearms are a highly demanding item they are not especially remarkable – people have been making firearms out of Zinc, "pot metal" and inferior steels for decades. More recently they've been making them out of plastics, something that will happen more and more often as plastics improve in strength.

  31. You should also learn to spell or at least check your work and correct it !

  32. Hey bcmcd and RFW, I'm getting long in the tooth as well but you two guys sound like the Carriage Builders of history dissing the Motorcar ! ! Thanks for all the things you have accomplished and hopefully some were for the betterment of our fellow man. Just stop and think about where you've come from until now ….. that's pretty mind boggling and its changing exponentially now.